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Title:Behind The Shield
Author:Yuma aka mrwubbles
Betas:myfieldnotes and penfold_x
Artist:squarededdie
Fanmixer:[personal profile]epershand
Series: ST XI
Character(s):Jim Kirk, Leonard McCoy
Rating:PG-13
Word Count:38,000+
Warnings: (if applicable) strong language
Summary: GEN - F.B.I. Special Agent Leonard McCoy of the White Collar Division wants to catch the Dutchman. But can the infamous James Kirk, a reformed young con artist, really help him? Or is this one big con, too? A revisit of White Collar's pilot episode, Star Trek Reboot style.

Previous Parts: Master Post| Teaser

Act 1 (1/2)
Lower Manhattan, New York City

He needed coffee.

Special Agent Leonard McCoy felt like he was surrounded by Romper Room. And the sad part was he suspected most of these fresh faces most likely never even heard of Romper Room, raised in the over-merchandised, over-colorized, overly politically correct world of purple dinosaurs and talking hammers. They looked like they worked on Wall Street, not just in the standing in a bank on Wall Street, trying to break into one of the personal deposit boxes way. And of course the boxes didn't use keys, only combination locks which had stumped his whole team because Quantico apparently only taught them how to get into confiscated vaults with keys. Only Nyota had enough sense to call the main office and ask for a safecracker. Thank God their warrant covered that (sort of); he wasn't in the mood to argue with the assistant DA on whether or not a safecracker was 'logical'. Not when he was this close to finally getting in.

The bank manager was upstairs having what his grandmother would call a fit of the vapors, doing the twenty first century's version of macho hand wringing: he'd already called the bank's corporate office screeching the FBI had brought in a warrant to break into their vaults.

Sulu and Chekov were off to the side, twin pairs of eyes glued avidly to the security camera monitors. They were whispering out of the corners of their mouths, no doubt about how they would have done things if it was up to them. Chekov had yet to outgrow looking like someone's baby brother with that curly light mop of hair and those suits that hung off his lanky frame like they were his father's. While Sulu acted sometimes like he needed to be the Japanese anime poster boy for the F.B.I., a little too eager to catch his perp and then pose in his G.Q, glory for the action hero shot.

Leonard was normally open to suggestions but after an hour and a half and Chekov's almost gleeful suggestion of using an industrial strength cutting laser, Leonard had decided he was better off with his boring, non-flammable safecracker. That kid worried him sometimes.

"…maybe some C4?" Sulu muttered. "We could blow the bottom out from the vault below. Wouldn't be that big of an explosion."

Christ.

"Nyet. Blowtorch?" The kid's words were strongly flavored with too much adrenalin and his mother's Slavic accent.

"Oh yeah, that could work…but who would do it?"

"We flip a coin?"

"How about rock, scissors, paper, lizard, S—"

"Drop three." At last, the speakers announced the first tumbler locking into place.

Pacing in a tight circle, Leonard gave up trying not to look like he was pacing. He ran a hand through his short dark hair and debated how pathetic it would be to call Nyota to have her do a Starbucks run. Yeah, Agent Uhura would really appreciate a call from him asking her to get coffee.

"Drop two."

Leonard exhaled sharply and eyed the rest of his team all standing around with their notepads and identical looking pens. He smiled tightly at their barely suppressed eagerness. He clapped Chekov on the shoulder as he glanced at the monitor. It was hard to fight back the grin that wanted to break out. His skin thrummed with anticipation at each heavy thump of a tumbler pin dropping into place.

"Drop four. All pins down, preparing to open."

"Finally," Sulu groaned and Leonard silently agreed. Except…

"Three, two, four?" Leonard muttered. He frowned, his brow knitting. "Three, two, four…"

"What?" Chekov caught what he said.

Oh shit.

Leonard's eyes widened and he spun around on his heels towards the vault. "Wait!"

There was no warning.

It wasn't like in the movies; no beeping countdown, no deep booming concussion of sound. Just a lot of god damn smoke and dust.

"You okay?" Leonard demanded when one female agent crashed into him, coughing so hard it threw her balance. He braced her as he blinked tear streaming eyes. "Is everybody okay?" He scanned the rest of the room, everyone sputtering, hacking but still upright.

Chekov said something loud and definitely Russian (and probably rude) as he covered his nose and mouth with the crook of his bent elbow. He half-heartedly pushed Sulu away, waving him off when the other asked if he was all right. Satisfied, Sulu stumbled into the vault with Leonard.

The vault itself appeared to be fine, odd bits and clumps of what looked like rat nests on the ground smoldering. The smoke had an odd tang of copper and burnt paper to its odor. But no fire. And the safecracker himself was sitting on the floor, slack jawed and gaping. His comb-over was now parted the other way, his stupefied face and button down oxford blackened with soot. He looked like a bad cartoon.

Despite his stupor, the technician rose to his feet with his and Sulu's help and the three of them staggered blindly back through the billows of smoke and into the waiting area with the rest of the agents.

Chekov gave them a relieved look before he returned his attention back to the bank manager who had burst in after the explosion. Finnegan and Rand were brushing themselves off, banging the top of their monitors in a vain effort to get back the surveillance video of the vault interior.

"What happened?" the safecracker sputtered around Leonard's attempts to check his pupils.

"Hold still!" Leonard gripped the agent by the chin. "Follow my finger with your eyes." He breathed out sharply. "What happened was I said 'wait'!"

"And you didn't wait," Sulu mourned.

Leonard gnashed his teeth. "We've never been this close to the Dutchman before and you just blew up my evidence." He straightened, satisfied the man didn't have a concussion.

"Told you we should have used a blowtorch," Chekov muttered to Sulu.

"What are we going to tell our customers?" the bank manager bemoaned but everyone ignored him.

"Agent McCoy, how did you know it was going to do that?" one of the agents wanted to know.

Leonard glowered at the manager who had the good sense to turn and start harassing his own staff about clean up. Angrily slapping at his suit, dust puffing away from him like Lucifer's brimstone, Leonard nodded jerkily at Sulu. "Three-two-four. Look at your phones. What's it spell?"

Romper Room pulled out their cell phones and blinked at their screens. Smartphones, his ass.

Sulu winced. "Oh." He scratched his jaw. "F.B.I."

"Yeah, F.B.I.," Leonard bit out. The rest of the room started wearing the same chagrined grimaces.

"He knew we were coming," Chekov groaned.

"You think?" Sulu deadpanned.

Leonard waved angrily in the air at the fumes. "Ten thousand man hours up in smoke. Literally!" He started to brush off his shoulders when a shiny filament caught his eye. He snatched it up and waved it in the air.

"Somebody want to tell me what this is?"

At the collective blank looks, Leonard walked around with it pinched between his fingers. "Anybody? Wonderful. Nobody knows what it is?" He rolled his eyes and threw up a hand when everyone just gaped back at him like caught catfish. "Terrific. Look at you. How many of you went to Harvard?"

Everyone including Sulu and Chekov raised their hands.

"That wasn't a question!"

The hands dropped immediately.

Leonard muttered to himself as he glowered at the shimmery strip in his hand. Too wide to be hair, too narrow to be film. The agents gave him a wide berth and it didn't slip his attention there was a collective sigh of relief when Agent Nyota Uhura sailed into the room. She looked out of place in her perfectly pressed gray suit that complimented her dark skin. She raised an eyebrow at the scene before her, but aside from that and an absentminded toss of her long hair off her shoulders, it was the only reaction.

Uhura nodded at Sulu as she walked by, smiled at Chekov and stopped in front of Leonard. Wordlessly, she stuck out her arm, a steaming coffee cup in her hand.

"Remind me about this when it's time for your performance review," Leonard mumbled, only half-kidding as he swapped out the coffee in her grip for the odd strip. Uhura angled it towards the light and squinted at it.

"Apparently," Leonard said between slurps, "our boy has a sense of humor." He gave the still smoky room a grand sweep of his arm. He glanced up to find his former probie no longer studying the piece. Seeing her expression, Leonard pulled the coffee away. The taste of the bitter roast soured in his mouth. "This wasn't ESP," Leonard said softly. "This was to break me the bad news. What is it?"

Uhura grimaced.

"James Kirk escaped."


stbb_bts_art02_squarededdie


--

The look on his face was enough to send everyone scattering and those not quick enough, got a hurried "Make way. Sorry" from either Uhura or Sulu. Chekov dogged their heels, his precious laptop under his arm, radio in his hand, scrolling through his smart phone for directions for them.

"How long ago?" Leonard grumbled. He drained his coffee and gave the cup a regretful look before he chucked it into a wastebasket.

"They're not sure." Uhura never deterred from her smooth tone despite the fact she needed to quicken her pace to keep up with Leonard. "Guards only realized when they were doing their afternoon head count."

"Great. So Kirk probably already has several hours head start already on them." Leonard's mouth twisted wryly. And here he'd thought his day was bad, poor bastards.

"Who's James Kirk?" Chekov panted as he struggled to catch up.

"I'll tell you later," Sulu hissed but Leonard heard him anyway. He whipped around to face their youngest agent whose sudden unaccountability pissed him off even more.

"Kirk was suspected of forgery, embezzlement, fraud, you name it. The only thing we were able to pin on him was bond counterfeiting and now after all that work, those idiots—" A folder cut between him and Chekov, sparing the kid his tirade.

"What the hell is this?" Leonard spun back around to storm down the marble hallways head towards their squad van. He thumbed through the paperwork. He nearly groaned at the mug shot staring back at him. The deceptive Peter Pan smile grated him; it was the face of a man confident he could convince Tantalus he wasn't thirsty.

"U.S. Marshalls are requesting your help." Uhura shrugged as she passed down the file to Chekov.

"My help?" Leonard half-turned towards her with a frown.

"He's very young," Chekov commented as he scanned the file. He read quickly, mouth moving. He never looked up as he neatly veered around people, through the revolving doors, out into the street where Leonard parked his car.

Uhura tipped a grimace towards Leonard's way. "Director Barnett asked for you personally."

Leonard groaned.

"Why him?" Chekov piped up.

"Keep reading," Sulu whispered to him, then tugged him by the arm so Chekov wouldn't get hit by the street vendor selling three dollar umbrellas out of a shopping cart.

Leonard stuck the key into the car door as he grumbled. "Because he hates me."

The grin was audible in Uhura's voice. "And probably because you're the only one who ever caught him."

"Ah. That would be a very good reason," Chekov agreed solemnly as he climbed into the backseat with Sulu. Uhura smirked from across the car at Leonard before she slid into the front seat.

Leonard thumped his head on top of the steering wheel a couple of times before he started the car. He ignored Sulu's yelp when he went into gear abruptly and cut off the M9 bus to get onto Broadway.

--

S.F.A. Correctional Facility, Upstate New York

"Agent Leonard McCoy, F.B.I.," Leonard muttered as he flipped open his ID. He heard the identical gestures behind him. Leonard's right eye twitched as the guards took their ID's and carefully wrote them down in the logbook.

"White Collar Division," Chekov supplied from the back. "New York City."

"They don't need to know that," Sulu muttered under his breath as he tapped his foot behind Leonard.

"Agent McCoy." Heeled steps herald the arrival of a heavy built man to the gates. He offered a dark hand and Leonard shook the firm, dry grip. This was a man not easily fazed nor impressed. "I'm Barnett, U.S. Marshalls. Appreciate the help. You were the case agent?"

Leonard grunted but at Uhura's sideways look, reluctantly added, "I was."

Barnett held the gate open for everyone to enter. He easily matched Leonard's pace as he led them into the prison.

"So you'll agree this is an unusual situation," Barnett rumbled.

Leonard sighed. Everything with Kirk was unusual. Christ, chasing Kirk back then had all the earmarks of chasing rainbows; there was no way to know if he was really out there or what Kirk would lead you to.

"You mean as to why would Kirk run with three months left on a four year sentence?" Leonard grunted. He was wondering the same thing himself during the drive over. But then, Jim Kirk did things no one would ever guess. The kid pulled off the craziest shit, knew it and just did it again even though he knew the F.B.I. was hot on his trail.

"Three months?" Chekov exclaimed. His following words were muffled, edited by Sulu's elbow to his ribs.

Barnett sighed and for the first time, his face showed something else other than the bland expression of someone who thought he had everything under control. "Well, that's what we're wondering, agents." Barnett shook his head. He nodded towards a portly man hurrying towards them from the opposite direction. The jeers the man received as he went past the cells already told Leonard who he was.

"So you're the guy who dropped the ball," Leonard said as soon as a hand was stuck in his direction. He didn't take it.

"Boss," Uhura groaned under her breath.

Barnett pressed his lips together, as if disapproving, but Leonard caught the twitch at the corner of his mouth, his thin mustache upturning.

"Warden Komack. Special Agent Leonard McCoy."

Komack withdrew his hand. He glowered at Leonard.

"You of all people should know what Kirk's capable of."

"I know I spent three years of my life chasing him and you let him walk out the front door," Leonard retorted as he followed Barnett and Komack into the cell block.

Barnett cleared his throat. "Gentleman, might I remind you that Kirk possibly has a four hour head start?"

Leonard didn't tell him that if it was four hours, they might have a better chance being struck by lightning than catching Kirk. He shared a look with Komack, a begrudging truce formed. They looked away, both clearing their throats.

The corridors lined with cells ignited with shouting as they passed. Sulu scowled at them as they walked. Chekov muttered as if he was replying to their comments under his breath. Leonard ignored the heckling around him; Uhura wore a bored expression despite the cat calls.

"Kirk came out of the E-block staff bathroom dressed as a guard." Leonard tapped the file Uhura gave him before. He glanced over to the warden. Komack coughed into a fist.

"Where did he get the uniform?" Chekov asked in the back.

"Uniform supply company on the internet," Barnett returned.

"Whose credit card?" Leonard drawled not even asking how he'd managed to get it delivered.

Out of the corner of his eye, Leonard caught Uhura choking back a smirk.

Barnett cleared his throat delicately.

Komack sighed.

"He, uh, used my wife's American Express."

"We're tracking the number in case he uses it again," Barnett added, sympathetically.

Leonard grunted. "He won't."

--

It was obviously which was Kirk's cell as they approached. Whereas the other cells were bland, walls painted a white already yellowing with neglect, Kirk's cell walls were papered with historical sketches, paintings and torn pages from architectural books.

"It looked like he was willing to wait it out," Sulu pointed to the walls.

Or practicing for his next con, Leonard thought darkly as he considered the drawings. Some he recognized currently hung on gallery walls or famous downtown buildings.

Hatch marks filled one of the walls, each row containing clusters of twelve, each stroke exactly the same length. They were perfectly straight like Kirk had used a ruler.

"One, two…" Chekov's nose was inches from the wall. He looked cross-eyed as he counted. He frowned.

"That's three years, nine months," Chekov reported.

At Barnett's look, Leonard shrugged. "He's good with numbers." He ghosted fingers over the tally.

"Just three more months, Kirk," Leonard muttered to himself. "Now why the hell couldn't you wait? You waited so long already…" His brow knitted and he checked over his shoulder at Barnett.

"How'd he get the key cards for the gate?"

"We think he used a piece of card board and restriped the tape on that." Barnett hooked up an audio cassette player with his fingers.

"I didn't think they still made those," Sulu murmured. To Chekov, he added, "Might be before your time, Chekov. That's what we used to call cassette players."

Chekov grumbled back about not being that ignorant. Uhura rolled her eyes.

Leonard punched the eject button and studied the cassette still inside. He snorted.

"What?" Komack asked testily.

Punching 'play', the twang of Willie Nelson thrummed in the cell. Komack's face grew beet red when the lyrics "On the road again…" warbled back at him.

"Cute," Uhura muttered.

Leonard stopped it mid-word because Komack was starting to look like he was going to have a stroke. He couldn't help himself though when he commented, "Should've given him a CD player."

Sulu coughed. Chekov sounded like he'd choked on a sneeze.

Shaking his head, Leonard felt more bemused than pissed now as he sat on the bed. A dog-eared copy of Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption tucked under the pillow. The corner was folded on the page with a penciled in smiley face on the part about Andy Dufresne's Rita Hayworth poster. He wondered how much of an asshole would he be if he asked the warden to check for holes behind the sketches.

Barnett paced around the confines of Kirk's cell, two fingers pointing at the walls like they were whiteboards. "He walked out the front door, hotwired a maintenance truck in the parking lot."

There was a thick car repairman's textbook from the prison's vocational library jammed between the wall and the bed. The pages were marked by torn pages of Whitman and Rupert Brooke.

Sulu took down notes with that damn moleskin notebook he always carried in his pocket. "Did you find the vehicle?"

"We found it abandoned near the airport."

Leonard flipped out a valet pamphlet for LaGuardia airport. Again from the vocational program, 'S.F.A. Vocation' was stamped across a line of yellow slicker wearing men with plastic smiles.

Komack jumped in. "We beefed up security just in case he tried to get out of New York that way."

"We're not going to catch Kirk using roadblocks and wanted posters." Leonard tossed the pamphlet to Uhura. She studied the front and back. Her eyes widened.

"Executive Services Airport Parking?" Uhura read out loud. "You think he's driving?"

Leonard grimaced. "Maybe, although the last car he had, he drove it off a quarry in Iowa."

Komack sputtered. Barnett looked faintly impressed and freaked. Chekov turned to Sulu and asked, "There are quarries in Iowa?"

Leonard tapped thoughtfully at a shard of mirror on top of a stack of books; a tower of paper sorted from the largest volume to the smallest. It made for an unusual elongated pyramid that reminded him of one of those weird modern art sculptures in MoMA.

Komack nodded towards the mirror. "He shaved his beard just before he escaped."

Leonard frowned staring at the meticulously created matchstick model of a sailing ship. "Kirk doesn't wear beards."

--

Chelsea, New York City

It was agreed that if they were ever separated or forced to go off grid, they would all go to ground far from each other, picking aliases by using the first letter of the first name of their last con.

There was no guarantee their rules still applied after he was incarcerated. Still, he went and checked anyway—the studio overlooking the antique flea market had been vacant for over three years. Sam had packed everything up, no doubt sold what he couldn't hide in storage and left. Jim found the motorcycle he had built when they'd first arrived in New York now owned by a bartender who had lived next door. Apparently the bartender had bought it with the notion of riding it one day, had lost his nerve after his girl dumped him their first night out and she'd been left wallowing in the joint garage ever since.

It was in the motorcycle: a slip of paper stuffed under the seat's stitching; Sam's new name George Frank.

And that was a sick joke. Here Sam said he was the weird one. He gave the apartment building another look—it had been the longest place they'd ever stayed in—before he started walking west towards downtown.

--

S.F.A. Correctional Facility, Upstate New York

Leonard squinted and leaned closer to stare at the black and white monitors. He rolled his chair back and forth thoughtfully as he considered the freeze frame of Kirk with his wild and frazzled looking beard.

"Inmates are photographed each morning as they exit their cells," Komack explained.

"I hardly recognize him," Uhura murmured, her eyes glued to the screen.

"He looks nothing like the picture in his file," Chekov agreed.

Leonard rubbed his chin with a knuckle. He narrowed his eyes. "I think that's the point." Guys like Kirk never did anything without a purpose or an angle. He tapped on the monitor. "This morning?" he asked the technician sitting next to him.

Shrugging, the man checked the time stamp. "Yes, sir."

"Run the series back."

Leonard watched the beard and the hair shrink day by day, revealing more of the face he tracked for a good part of three years. Leonard noted prison food must not always have agreed with Kirk. The jaw line was more defined now, the chin more pronounced. He was surprised to find himself disturbed that the glint of humor Kirk always wore in his eyes like a badge of honor was also absent.

One image caught his eye and Leonard straightened in his seat. "Stop."

After a stutter, the screen froze at the smooth features of Kirk's face.

"That's it," Leonard declared, "when he stopped shaving." He studied the face, noted the lines at the corners of Kirk's mouth weren't there yet.

"I want to know everything that happened that day."

--

Damn it.

Leonard glowered at the flowery script taunting him from the lines of the logbook.

"He had a visitor." Leonard sighed heavily. He tossed the logbook back on the table. He glared at the coffee the warden's assistant had brought in. He wished it was something stronger.

Barnett leaned in and read over his shoulder, frowning.

"Edith Keeler." Barnett exchanged a look with Komack, who shrugged. "You know her?"

Leonard rubbed his fingertips over his right temple. He could feel the corner of his left eye twitching. Screw the coffee, he needed a mallet to his head. "Yeah," Leonard said wearily, "I do."

--

Somewhere in the West Village, New York City

The loft was under Eddy's name yet the mailbox was in George Frank's name. Jim stared at the mailbox stuffed and barely shut. He ran a thumbnail along the numbers on the mailbox.

Picking the lock to the building was easy. Going up that first step, for some reason, was not.

--

S.F.A. Correctional Facility, Upstate New York

Edith Keeler was just as beautiful as he'd remembered.

Face of a porcelain doll, short dark hair, wide green eyes, Keeler walked like she was better suited for dancing. Leonard remembered the demure smile she gave him when he'd first brought her in for questioning. She looked him right in the eye and said she didn't know who George or James T. Kirk was.

"Wow," Chekov breathed. Even in the unforgiving black and white monitor, Edith was just as impressive. Uhura murmured a reluctant agreeing sound.

Edith sat there, her almond shaped eyes half-circles as she talked to Kirk. Leonard frowned as she turned, angled away from the security cameras.

"No audio?"

Komack's eyes were transfixed on Edith. He shook his head, distractedly. "No."

Barnett flipped through the logbook behind Leonard, muttering as he scanned the pages. "There she is again. Looks like she comes back every week like clockwork."

Strangely, Leonard felt better knowing someone came by to see the young con-artist. Kirk never came off as someone who could sit still and being forced to stay in one spot for a guy like him was probably regarded as worse than the actual prison itself.

Leonard suddenly frowned. He would not feel sorry for the guy. He glared at the monitor. Leonard's brow knitted when it occurred to him.

"What about George?" he wondered out loud.

"Who?" Komack finally tore his eyes away from Edith.

"His brother. George Kirk—No, make that Sam Kirk." The older brother for some reason usually went with his middle name instead. "Anything in the logbook for a Sam or George Kirk?"

Barnett checked the logbook. After a few beats, he shook his head.

"No. nothing. It was just Keeler. Every week."

Leonard scowled, not really wanting to think about why that bothered him. Sam Kirk probably didn't want to chance implicating himself. Cautious bastard. He nodded towards the monitor.

"She's not thrilled about this visit."

In the monitor, Edith stood up. Kirk rose to his feet as well. He leaned forward into the glass that divided them.

"What is she saying to him?" Chekov asked.

Sulu tried but grunted when he couldn't hazard a guess. "How soon can we get a lip reader in here?"

Uhura, as efficient as always, pulled out her phone. "I can call headquarters and have some—"

"I'll save you the trouble," Leonard said suddenly. He studied the tense shoulders on Kirk as he twisted towards her when Edith walked away without a backward glance. "'Adios, Jim. It's been real.'"

"He can read lips, too?" Chekov whispered to Sulu, awed.

"No," Sulu whispered back.

Kirk remained standing, his hand on the glass, face turned towards the direction she'd left in. The technician chose that moment to freeze frame.

"She come back the next week?" Leonard asked, subdued.

"Nope. She never came back," Barnett replied after checking the logbook one last time.

Leonard breathed out slowly. He studied the image frozen in front of him. He couldn't see Kirk's face but his gut still tightened at the sight of him by the glass. Ah, stupid kid. In a flash of insight, Leonard knew where James Kirk went.

"Okay," Leonard sighed, "let's find Edith."



| Act 1 (2/2) |

TV Quote of the Day

Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?

~ Gandalf "The Hobbit"

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